- Dandelion, a spinoff of Alphabet’s secretive X lab, wants to bring geothermal to the masses.
- The company recently rolled out its first product, the Dandelion Air, which provides central heat and air conditioning.
- While it costs $20,000 (you can opt for a financing plan), Dandelion estimates you can save up to 70% on yearly heating and cooling costs, including the price tag.
A spinoff from Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) secretive “Moonshot Factory” wants to cool your home with geothermal energy – all without emissions.
Air conditioners are one of the biggest sources of electricity demand, according to a report from The International Energy Agency. Greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production are set to skyrocket from 1.25 billion tons to 2.28 billion tons in 2050, as global temperatures rise and more people purchase air conditioners.
Geothermal cooling, on the other hand, uses subterranean temperatures to keep homes at a comfortable temperature. Because the ground has insulating properties, temperatures four-to-six feet below ground don’t fluctuate as much, and a geothermal system can harness this.
“Homeowners are spending a huge premium today to heat with expensive, inconvenient, and polluting fossil fuels like fuel oil and propane,” Kathy Hannun, Dandelion’s CEO and a former Googler told Business Insider. “Conventional air conditioners tend to work worst on the hottest days, just when people need them most.”
Switching to a geothermal system, however, isn’t easy – or cheap. Traditional geothermal systems are often custom-made for homes, and too expensive for the average homeowner.
Dandelion’s new product, dubbed the Dandelion Air, is an attempt to bring eco-friendly geothermal heat and air conditioning to the masses. It’s over four times more efficient than any furnace on the market and twice as efficient as conventional air-conditioning systems, the company said.
But all that efficiency comes with a hefty price tag: The Dandelion Air costs $20,000 to install, though the company says homeowners are expected to save between 20% and 70% on yearly heating and cooling costs if they opt for Dandelion’s financing plan, which boils down to $135 a month over 20 years.
According to the company, homeowners recoup the cost of installing the system over time since it lowers their electricity bill and they don’t have to purchase oil for the winter.
How the Dandelion Air works
Dandelion’s technicians install the system – pump included – in your home, with a series of pipes that extend into the backyard. In the summer, the heat inside the home is pumped in the ground, where it gets absorbed, cooling the house. In the winter, it’s the opposite: the system absorbs heat from the ground and pumps it through your house using the ventilation system.
The system is designed for houses that already have a central ventilation system. Homes without vents will have to install them, potentially raising the cost of switching over to the system.
But while Hannun, Dandelion’s CEO, said most homes can use geothermal energy, you have to check Dandelion’s website to see if your home qualifies for the Air system. The company is working on developing a second product, Dandelion Radiate, that works with traditional radiators.
Right now, the system is only available to homeowners in New York, though Hannun said the company has plans to expand into other markets.
Since the Air was launched last week, Hannun said 2,500 homeowners have signed up to have the system installed.
“We’ve been thrilled by the interest,” she added.